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PostPosted: Thu Jun 15, 2017 7:44 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville Florida
I really would like to add a black clumping bamboo to my collection. I live in Jacksonville Florida considered zone 9a but within 2 miles from the St johns river so I would say more towards 9b 25ºF to 30°F. I have talking to a few growers down south more so in Tampa and it seems bambusa lako & gigantochloa atroviolacea survive our normal Florida cold snaps, however depending on how cold it get they might die back in winter then come back in spring but its like almost starting over. If its a matter of protecting it till it matures till its more frost tolerant I would be willing to experiment. Or I was wondering if anyone has tried dendrocalamus asper betung hitam or new from tropical Bamboo dendrocalamus brandisii var. 'black? I've been told dendrocalamus tend to do better with cold snaps. Any thoughts ? experiences? or should I save the space for another bamboo? what would you recommend? Currently growing B. Chungii, B. Oldhamii, B. pervariabilis Viridistriata- Sunburst, B. emeiensis Viridiflavus - Yin Yang, B. textilis mutabilis/Kanapaha & D. Minor Amoenus


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 7:20 am 
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Location: Southeast Texas, Zone 9a
In zone 9a, you are right on the margin of a suitable climate for many subtropical clumping bamboos. This means that just a few degrees one way or the other can mean the difference between little damage and topkill.

In the Houston area, the early to mid 2000's saw a string of mild winters. People decided that those winters would last forever, so they planted many marginal plants. Because clumping bamboos mature so quickly, there were many marginal bamboos that had achieved impressive stature. Nurseries sold things like Bambusa oldhamii as "bullet-proof" plants.

In 2009, there was a severe advective freeze that dropped the area to around 20 degrees F. The daytime temperatures also stayed pretty cold for several days. This event caused massive damage to many clumping bamboos. The plants that performed best (as far as I recall) were Bambusa multiplex, B. textilis, B. chungii, B. ventricosa, and B. emeiensis. These plants mostly experienced minor leaf loss, or maybe a little dieback. Plants that I saw perform poorly included B. lako, B. oldhammii, B. odashimae, B. pervariabilis, B. eutuldoides, and B. tuldoides. These varieties experienced severe to total topkill. I believe all of them returned from underground buds, except for the many that were removed by people who did not want to occasionally have to deal with the enormous task of cleaning up freeze damaged bamboos.

Since the 2009/2010 winter, there have been several more winters with somewhat milder but still damaging freezes that have continued to injure the more sensitive plants listed above.

A very knowledgeable member of this forum (Boonut) posted some pictures of his B. lako after the winter of 2009. He lives far south of here, in an area with much milder winters. The temperatures he experienced should be quite common in zone 9a. See his series of photographs here: http://www.bambooweb.info/ShowPictures.php?Type=B&BooID=33&Desc=&Loc=&Match=AND&Button=Search

I have not grown any Dendrocalamus, so my knowledge of them is quite limited, but the ones that I have seen are definitely not as hardy as the hardier Bambusa species. I do not know of any Dendrocalamus in the area that have not topkilled several times recently.

So....what is my recommendation? It depends on your goals and limitations. I think a large bamboo that looks good after 3 out of 5 winters is worth having. There are some plants that I enjoy enough to buy again if they freeze kill, because I am willing to gamble on a few mild years, and a backup specimen can always be kept in a pot. However, I am a collector, and I like to grow everything. If someone really just wants a beautiful, low maintenance landscape plant, I would never recommend a marginally cold hardy clumping bamboo. For the average urban person, clearing a mature, topkilled clumping bamboo plant is a pretty large cleanup job. Only a serious collector would knowingly risk having to take on this task, when hardier, less uncertain landscape choices exist.

As for microclimate and being near the river.....be careful. Many Houston residents have gotten used to the heat island, which gives them enormous protection during the normal radiational freezes. Over the past decade, the occasional severe advective freeze has caused much grief for gardeners who previously felt a false sense of security. On those cold, windy nights, temperatures across broad areas reach similar minimums, and there is nowhere for a huge, subtropical bamboo to hide.

As for maturity making the plants more cold hardy...here are my thoughts. During radiational freezes, the top of a dense, mature plant provides a thermal blanket for the lower foliage and branches. This will work for approximately one severe freeze event. Once the dead leaves from above fall off, the lower part of the plant is more exposed. Therefore, each successive freeze event during a winter will cause damage closer to the base of the plant. With subtropical bamboos, I have not found that a leaf or branch on an older plant is noticeably hardier than the equivalent on a younger plant. It is true that actively growing shoots and branches that have not yet hardened are vulnerable to freeze damage.

Maybe someone with more knowledge will chime in here, but I know of no "bullet-proof" black clumping bamboo for zone 9a. I would love to have one myself, so I will be happy to see evidence that one exists.


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 16, 2017 1:15 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville Florida
Thank you for taking the time to reply with your experience. You're correct living in sub-tropical areas we never know what winter will bring, its a gamble with certain bamboos. The best way to find out how well a plant will do is for me to test grow it. I might try B. Lako since it's the smaller of the blacks and if it ever dies back it wont be as daunting as the Dendro's

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 25, 2017 8:49 pm 
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Location: Lithia Florida
I live in the Tampa area. And I've grown many different species here in my 9a zone. I've also lost many to harsh winters. It can really depend on a few factors. Such as wind and frost protection from trees, house or other buildings. Also the length of time spent in temperatures below what the plant can handle. Big difference between an hour of 20 degrees as opposed to 8 hours. Just be prepared to lose any borderline bamboo. It happens. It's heartbreaking. But you'll figure out what you can and can't grow. I have personally given up on black bamboo. Seems when it starts to look good old man winter reminds me who the boss is. Good luck in whatever you choose. -Shu

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 01, 2017 10:07 pm 
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Location: Gulf Shores, Alabama
I'm in 8b or 9a and have one bamboo (Hirose) that I would consider marginal for my area and it has struggled for a few years. Some winters I think it's completely dead but somehow comes back but not much to show. I would love to have a good clumping black bamboo but I know better, ha ha. But my Kanapaha, chungii, and other stuff look great. So I just try and stay with stuff that I know will do good for my area. Even the chungii had trouble taking off the first couple of years since it was such harsh winters but it's good now.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 28, 2017 1:45 am 
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Location: Gulf Breeze fl
First I want to say I looked at your list of bamboo and it is almost exactly what I want for my new house in Gulf Breeze fl, except bambusa Nana. I tried a couple of species of black bamboo when I lived in central Florida and it always took a beating every winter and could never get it to thrive even that far south. Has your angel mist done well there?


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PostPosted: Mon Oct 30, 2017 3:55 pm 
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Location: Magnolia Springs, Al Zone 8b
Bamboo Society Membership: ABS - America
hydroid wrote:
I'm in 8b or 9a and have one bamboo (Hirose) that I would consider marginal for my area and it has struggled for a few years. Some winters I think it's completely dead but somehow comes back but not much to show. I would love to have a good clumping black bamboo but I know better, ha ha. But my Kanapaha, chungii, and other stuff look great. So I just try and stay with stuff that I know will do good for my area. Even the chungii had trouble taking off the first couple of years since it was such harsh winters but it's good now.


I have Kanapaha, Chungii, Emerald and Graceful and they have all done well for the first year in the ground. I did have some minor top kill on all but Graceful. I tried Asian Lemon, Oldhamii and Contracta this year, so results are still pending.

You mentioned other stuff, can you list the other species that have done well for you please. I'm looking to add to my mix this upcoming year. Like maybe the Seabreeze which is said to be the most salt tolerant.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:21 am 
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Location: Lithia Florida
My D. Minor (angel mist) has done well regarding the cold. But most of my clumps are close to my house which offers some protection. I’m also a firm believer that bamboos acclimate to cold, within a few degrees, if given enough exposure. I’ve had the same species planted side by side and have had minor damage on one and extensive damage on the other. Not really sure why. Nutrition perhaps. My guess is that they all vary when pushing the limits. But I will say, I have 5 clumps of B. Nana and all look really good. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. It seems to be far more cold hardy than originally labeled. We’ll see what happens this winter

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:49 pm 
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Location: Esparto, CA
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Shu - B nana has been on my list, it has a unique look - in photos anyway, glad to hear it may be hardy enough for me to try.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:21 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville Florida
Adam A wrote:
First I want to say I looked at your list of bamboo and it is almost exactly what I want for my new house in Gulf Breeze fl, except bambusa Nana. I tried a couple of species of black bamboo when I lived in central Florida and it always took a beating every winter and could never get it to thrive even that far south. Has your angel mist done well there?


My D minor Amoenus has done beautifully and weathered the few cold snaps we had last year with minor damage. The picture I attached was taken back in July and since then has sent out a ton of shoots.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 8:24 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville Florida
shuboo wrote:
My D. Minor (angel mist) has done well regarding the cold. But most of my clumps are close to my house which offers some protection. I’m also a firm believer that bamboos acclimate to cold, within a few degrees, if given enough exposure. I’ve had the same species planted side by side and have had minor damage on one and extensive damage on the other. Not really sure why. Nutrition perhaps. My guess is that they all vary when pushing the limits. But I will say, I have 5 clumps of B. Nana and all look really good. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. It seems to be far more cold hardy than originally labeled. We’ll see what happens this winter



Do you have any of your Nana for sale? I travel down to Tampa quit often.

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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 9:01 pm 
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Location: Jacksonville Florida
Just an Update. I gave up on the black clumping bamboo after talking to many experienced growers and the feed back here. I have added to my current collection this year by purchasing 2 newly released bamboos from tropical bamboo. Bambusa tuldoides cv 'Swollen Internode (Cool Buddha) Its similar to the Wamin staying relatively small and keeping its bellies but able to handle northern Florida's cooler temps . The other is Dendro Bambusoides which has a smoky gray culm similar to P henon. This one didn't have a temp rating so I will be testing it. I attached some pictures of the mature species at tropical bamboo


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 12:58 am 
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Location: Lithia Florida
needmore wrote:
Shu - B nana has been on my list, it has a unique look - in photos anyway, glad to hear it may be hardy enough for me to try.


Yeah Brad, so far so good. When it first hit the market from Sherry Snodgress years ago the estimated cold hardiness wasn’t very impressive. I was really disappointed because I love the look of a mature clump. But I figured, why not try it. Mine have been through a few winters in containers and three in ground. No damage at all so far. We’ve had fairly mild winters for a the last few years but mine did fine with regards to frost. We’ll see what happens this winter.

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:00 am 
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Location: Lithia Florida
BamBuddha wrote:
Just an Update. I gave up on the black clumping bamboo after talking to many experienced growers and the feed back here. I have added to my current collection this year by purchasing 2 newly released bamboos from tropical bamboo. Bambusa tuldoides cv 'Swollen Internode (Cool Buddha) Its similar to the Wamin staying relatively small and keeping its bellies but able to handle northern Florida's cooler temps . The other is Dendro Bambusoides which has a smoky gray culm similar to P henon. This one didn't have a temp rating so I will be testing it. I attached some pictures of the mature species at tropical bamboo


I picked up a 3 gallon of ‘swollen internode’ as well. Should be interesting to see how it matures

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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 1:05 am 
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Location: Lithia Florida
BamBuddha wrote:
shuboo wrote:
My D. Minor (angel mist) has done well regarding the cold. But most of my clumps are close to my house which offers some protection. I’m also a firm believer that bamboos acclimate to cold, within a few degrees, if given enough exposure. I’ve had the same species planted side by side and have had minor damage on one and extensive damage on the other. Not really sure why. Nutrition perhaps. My guess is that they all vary when pushing the limits. But I will say, I have 5 clumps of B. Nana and all look really good. It’s quickly becoming one of my favorites. It seems to be far more cold hardy than originally labeled. We’ll see what happens this winter



Do you have any of your Nana for sale? I travel down to Tampa quit often.


Unfortunately I don’t, yet. Mine have all put up several new shoots this season. I lost a few due to Irma. It will be another year before I will be able to divide it. It’s going to be an interesting divide as it’s an extremely tight clumper. When I get up and running I make some posts when I have some available. It’s definitely a great plant

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